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Search continues for Tacoma pilot who disappeared from radar

Rod Collen was reported missing last week. His plane is believed to have gone down between Queets and Lake Quinalt.

TACOMA, Wash. — The search continues for Rod Collen, who was last seen flying out of Tacoma Narrows Airport last Monday.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Air Search and Rescue learned of Collen’s disappearance when his 2006 Cessna T182 Turbo Skylane disappeared from the radar.

Since then, the hunt has been on to locate Collen and bring him home.

Thomas Peterson has been coordinating WSDOT’s Search and Rescue efforts. He says even though it’s been a week since Collen went missing, there’s still hope.

“In terms of survivability, people have been able to survive this long and longer in situations like this, and that’s the assumption we make as we pursue this mission,” he said.

But he also says it won’t be easy.

Search officials say they haven’t been able to detect a signal from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter since it went off radar, but the search area has been narrowed to a 36-square-mile section of forest land. Radar forensics place the aircraft near the coast between Lake Quinault and Queets.

However, the terrain is rugged and there’s been some logging activity in the area, which Peterson says can present some unique challenges for the search.

“An aircraft like this can easily go down between the trees with the density that’s out there and can be very hard to discover from the air,” Peterson explained. “Adding to the fact that they’ve had snow up there and patches of snow all over the ground that make looking for a white aircraft a little more challenging as well.”

However, Peterson says that when a pilot goes missing, that’s not only felt by their loved ones, but by anyone who takes to the sky.  

“Everyone in the aviation community, whether they know each other or not, it’s kind of a common bond in making sure people that are missing and don’t stay missing,” he said.

Peterson went on to say that the search will continue throughout the week, as much as the weather will allow. He also said that while he appreciates the outpouring of community support, the agency has what they need for now and don’t need any more volunteers.


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